When Brett Favre walks into the Minnesota Vikings‘ headquarters the day after a game, there is no magic potion or cutting-edge treatment there waiting to get the 40-year-old quarterback ready to play the next week.
It’s not like the opening to the 1970s television show “The Six Million Dollar Man,” with team athletic trainer Eric Sugarman telling his staff that “we can rebuild him” as a broken-down Favre lays on an examination table.
For a middle-aged man coming off of surgery, playing the most violent sport around and throwing the ball more than 40 times in some games, it appears that Favre doesn’t do anything special to get from one game to the next. Favre said he puts ice on his shoulder occasionally and does extra stretching “every once in a blue moon.”
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Other than that, Bionic Brett is keeping up just fine with teammates half his age.
Three times this year, Favre has attempted at least 46 passes in a game, including the victory on Sunday over Chicago when he completed 32 of 48 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns.
“Not one throw,” Favre said Wednesday, knocking on the wooden podium in front of him, “this year where I felt, either after or before, that I went ‘oww.’ I’m probably as surprised as anyone.”
Much of that credit goes to Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery to alleviate the pain on Favre’s injured biceps tendon this summer. But Favre is also playing with a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, and the Vikings have abandoned their initial plan of running the ball more to keep the pressure off of Favre’s arm.
Favre threw 46 passes in a win over San Francisco in Week 3, 50 in a loss at Pittsburgh three weeks later and 48 against the Bears on Sunday. Opposing defenses continue to load up against Adrian Peterson and the running game, so the Vikings are throwing the ball more than they ever have under coach Brad Childress.
Despite Favre’s advanced age, Childress said there is no special regimen for him to follow.
“He goes through the same strength program everybody else goes through,” Childress said. “I think that he is pretty well in tune with his body. … He is in good enough shape to do it and he’s got the physical movements to be able to do it, and he’s got the arm strength to be able to (throw) a bunch of them.”
Favre is second in the league with a 112.1 rating with 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions for the Vikings (10-1), who are right on the heels of the undefeated New Orleans Saints for the best record in the NFC. When he takes the first snap against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night, Favre will break former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall’s NFL record of 282 consecutive games played by a position player.
“To be mentioned and to be up there with him is pretty impressive,” Favre said. “It’s hard to do. I think that his position is harder because you are hit every time. There are some times where I can hand off and watch.”
Marshall appeared at the Vikings‘ practice facility in September, a few days after Favre broke his record of consecutive starts (270). Marshall said he is a great admirer of Favre and was happy to see his record in good hands.
“Every defensive lineman that he plays against is trying to hurt him,” Marshall said. “That’s a tough way to earn a living.”
Not that Favre doesn’t feel the effects of playing more than 300 career games, including the playoffs.
“Legs, back, hips, knees, ankles, other than that, nothing seems to bother me,” he deadpanned.
As long as that ageless right arm continues to hold up, that’s all that matters. Favre got off to a great start last year with New York, but the torn biceps tendon contributed to a horrendous finish of nine interceptions and just two touchdowns in the final five games as the Jets tumbled from playoff contention.
“I was going my whole career without anything. Then all of a sudden, just about every throw bothered me,” Favre said. “Just coming off biceps surgery, I’m almost 40 years old, I’ve heard, ‘Aw, he won’t hold up.’ But it feels great.”
NOTES: RG Anthony Herrera (concussion) and CB Benny Sapp (thumb) did not practice on Wednesday. Sapp said he expects to be ready this week. Herrera missed last week’s game.